It’s been a long, difficult road of ideation, product development, endless fine-tuning, and working into the wee hours of the night. Now that the hard work has paid off and you’re in-market with a product you’re proud of, the next round of stress begins: reaching customers in a way that is true to your brand, but also stands out against the competition.
Strategically using a mix of the five multimedia communication tools will help you stand out, garner attention, and push potential customers through the sales funnel effectively.
Whether you are particularly tech savvy or not, most of these suggestions can be implemented with the help of your trusty smartphone or basic laptop. It might take a little bit of practice, but flex your multimedia muscles with text, still images, audio, video and animations and your customers will get excited about engaging with your company.
String your words together well
It’s one of the most tried and true methods of communication, and will lead the way you use other multimedia tools, so be sure to make the most of it – the written word.
Stringing words together to communicate key messages on your website, blog, in reports, email marketing efforts and social media content, is an excellent way to clearly communicate who you are and why your business matters, especially compared to the competition.
If you have no idea where to start or what to write, hire a copywriter. Whether it’s full time, freelance or anything in between, they will be able to polish up your messaging and ensure that everything from your blog to your first email marketing message or hundredth tweet, articulates your value just so.
Can’t afford to pay someone? Not to worry. With the advent of free, online writing assistants such as Grammarly, coupled with Google Docs or Word’s squiggly lines indicating there’s a mistake in copy, there’s no reason why your text should not – at the very least – be free from grammatical and spelling errors. Now, that isn’t to suggest everyone is a writer, it is to say that triple-checking your text, and fine-tuning the brand messaging is an essential part of your multimedia communication efforts, and that cannot be overstated.
Some ideas include writing a weekly blog outlining business news or key features of your product, email marketing to keep your customers in the loop, updating your website copy or releasing reports and media releases – it all depends on what your product is and the impact you aim to make with it.
A picture is worth … (OK we won’t go there)
Where the written word can be a beautiful thing, aesthetically, it is not nearly as beautiful or as captivating as a strong, complementary image. Photography – especially that of professional quality – elevates your brand and tells your story in a way that reels in the audience. The added bonus for the social media-minded, is that photography is highly shareable, too!
Be mindful of the brand’s tone and style when you start thinking about visual storytelling – the colours, light, setting, and all of the other, smaller details paint a picture of who you are and what your company aims to accomplish. Your best bet is to hire a photographer who understands you and your vision for the company. Working with a photographer for team headshots, and other, general photography of your space, products, events and any other promotional material, ensures consistency with the imagery, and, most importantly, that it is high-quality.
If you can’t afford a photographer, there are some things you can do.
For starters, learn everything you can about photography and invest in a decently priced DSLR camera and practice, practice, practice. A decent one will run you about $400, and the more you use it and understand it, the better you’ll get. It won’t be perfect, but it’s still much better than using stock photography (providing the photos turn out OK).
Otherwise, for team headshots, leverage resources such as Iris Booth; for about $20, each team member will receive a handful of headshots for use on their LinkedIn pages and on your website. Or, you can always approach a photography student and negotiate a good deal. Crediting them as the photographer and paying a small fee, with the exposure could be a great opportunity for them to learn and grow their skills.
Finally, for banner photos or social media imagery, as a last resort you can scour sites like Unsplash, Pexels or Pixabay for free, downloadable images. Whatever you do, always credit the photography, and don’t share anything without a strong visual to better attract and engage audiences.
Laid-back listening can be a great way to learn
Because everyone likes to engage with brands in different ways, it’s no wonder that over the last two years, podcasts have become an increasingly popular. When it’s done correctly, it can be an excellent avenue to literally tell your brand’s story and key components of your product or service.
The best part is that, other than downloading or streaming the podcast, users are actively looking for, engaging with and learning about your brand in a passive way – while they walk, drive, exercise, commute, or whatever they’re doing. Podcasts really are a unique way to strike a niche within the market, while painting yourself as a thought leader or expert within your industry.
But this takes some planning and time to do it right, if you’re going to do it at all. Come up with a plan for frequency (will it be once a week or once per month?) and determine if it’s sustainable given your resources and business type.
If your product is resolving a common issue – specifically societal or environmental, for example – why not invite users to speak candidly about their experience before and after using your product? Be aware that podcasts that are exclusively about a product, rather than a broader conversation about its impact or utility, can be perceived as gimmicky and become ineffective quickly.
Your product and story need to have the right voice and significant impact for this to work. If you think podcasts are a good fit for your brand (or are at least thinking about it), join us for a Lunch + Learn at noon on Tuesday, July 9, aptly called, So You Want to Launch A Podcast?
The other way you can leverage audio, is to connect with local radio hosts and ask to speak on issues related to your product, service or industry. This is a great opportunity to engage with the community and build your brand, but it will not be an opportunity to simply plug your company to the masses.
Every smartphone doubles as a videocamera
In addition to the high engagement rates that videos tend to have with audiences, and the love they get from search engines, videography (done well) reflects strong brand standards and real passion for digital storytelling.
There are countless opportunities to use video to share specific details of your product, create user tutorials, video blogs about your company life and culture, or tell the company’s origin story to really form a connection with your customers. There really are no limits, and it helps to be able to show details and insights, instead of just writing about it in a handbook or blog.
From the user’s perspective, video is a laid-back, easy way to learn about and engage with a brand from the comfort of – anywhere – and its benefits can be applied to any type of company. Take the time to write up a tentative schedule of videos you want to create, and how they can help you achieve your overarching goals (brand awareness, revenue, customer engagement, etc.).
Most notably, if you’re going to create videos, take the time to add captions to them. The sad truth is that, while most people are sitting in on long meetings or conversations, they are often scrolling through their social feeds and reading captions while watching share-worthy video (we didn’t say it was polite; but it is a reality).
If you come into video creation with a plan, instead of aiming for one-offs when you think of an idea, you can effectively assemble a team and make the most of this multimedia tool. Plus, there are some simple tools (beyond your smartphone) that can make your videos more polished and professional: Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and iMovie are excellent tools that will help you cut, crop and arrange the perfect clip.
Also, don’t be afraid to livestream Q&A sessions on your social feeds instead of doing a full recording/editing session, or use Facebook/Instagram stories to share videos that achieve the same goals, but are more organic and can be less time consuming for your team. Continue to approach live streams and social videos with a plan, but note that this is an easier way to implement video when you’re just starting out.
Get GIFfy with it (but be careful!):
Gifs and other animations, in general, are hit or miss for brands – especially ones that are working to establish their organization’s voice, tone, and style. In general, they are not recommended because they can be amusing to some, and highly offensive to others, and for the most part are not worth the risk.
Where they can have some value, is in establishing a bit of a personality – but tread carefully and only use existing GIFs if you understand the full context of what it is trying to convey.
Otherwise, you can always experiment and make your own animations with free software on your mobile app or computer, using high quality images. Giphy is the most commonly known tool to make GIFs efficiently; others include EzGif and Imgflip. These can clearly show expressions, movements and details that a photograph cannot. It’s a happy medium between a still photo and a full-blown video.
While they haven’t proven to be a hugely beneficial tool, they still are an option. But use them wisely.